Defining Mantyhose: Bike Motif Tights from Emilio Cavallini
Let me be clear: bike fashion is about looking good on a bike. It's not about taking regular, unsuspecting, perfectly-serviceable items and covering them with a bike print. No, that stuff doesn't count and I tend to avoid it like I avoid the driver's seat of a car. But but but, I have such a soft spot for novelty tights. I mean, I technically can resist them. At this moment, I do not in fact, own all the tights. But it's a constant struggle.
These do it for me on so many levels of fashion nerdiness:
1) Made by Emilio Cavallini. When I went to fashion school in Florence, we got to tour the Emilio Cavallini factory. It's in a tiny Tuscan town that also hosts a truffle festival. (squee!) Anyway, the factory is this very high-tech operation with tons of complicated machines that knit up intricately patterned tights legs. Then little Italian ladies stitch the crotches together (the all-important cotton lining) and package them up. When we toured the factory in 2006, Mr. Cavallini was super excited to show us their latest innovation: a thick pair of tights that imitated the look of denim work trousers. Yes, the Cavallini factory invented jeggings. Eyeballs, you are welcome.
2) I do kinda secretly love stuff that's covered in bikes, but it has to be something I would actually wear. Like you can't just screenprint a bike on a sweatshirt and call it a day.
3) Mantyhose. Hosiery for men. This is not a ridiculous idea. I mean,
aggro bike dudes male cyclists already wear full lycra kit. That's basically tights. And the leg warmers that are made to be worn with cycling shorts are basically thigh-high stockings. But there's also a historical precedent. Going back to the middle ages, pantyhose–that is to say, tight socks that extend to the waist–were originally worn by men only.
Also, can we just examine our cultural prejudices that tell us when a man adopts an article of clothing that is coded female, he is considered weak and ridiculous? But when a woman wears a male-coded item, she is considered powerful?